Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he had no intention to replace Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, whose retirement was announced overnight, and that the decision to step down was entirely that of the 30-year police veteran.
Derenda's retirement took effect at midnight. It was explained by city officials that Derenda, who was reconfirmed to the post by the Common Council just one week before, had accepted an offer to work in the private sector.
"No, I had no plans to ask him to step aside," said Mayor Brown Wednesday morning. "He has served the city well. He has done a good job. Crime has fallen by 40 percent overall during my tenure as mayor. Commissioner Derenda has been the commissioner for seven years. I was very pleased with the work he was doing."
Brown added that Derenda, who was named Commissioner in 2010, had received several offers to work in the private sector during his tenure.
First Deputy Commissioner Byron Lockwood has been appointed to lead the police department until a successor is hired. Mayor Brown believes the individual who ultimately replaces Derenda on a permanent basis will come from within the department.
"We're not going to rush it," Mayor Brown said. "It's 180 days according to the (City) Charter. I think the department will be well-managed by Commissioner Byron Lockwood and we will watch the process and see how it unfolds."
Lockwood has not been ruled out as a candidate. Mayor Brown praised him as a "very steady hand" and an individual who has decades of experience with Buffalo Police.
"For the last 12 years, he has served as Deputy Commissioner of Operations or as First Deputy Commissioner," the mayor said. "I thought he would provide a significant level of continuity of our police department and he is very respected."
The city has also seen a recent change in leadership in its Fire Department. Vincent Muscarella was confirmed last week as its new permanent commissioner, succeeding the retired Garnell Whitfield. Muscarella and the individual who becomes Buffalo's new police commissioner will lead departments that are in the process of moving into a centralized public safety facility in Niagara Square, within the former federal courthouse.
The mayor looks forward to the fresh ideas they may bring.
"We are constantly, always looking for new ideas, always looking at continuous improvement of the operations of city government, certainly the operations of public safety, police and fire," Brown said. "There are a number of very talented people in the Buffalo Police Department and I am confident that we will be able to find the right person within the ranks of Buffalo Police."